How To Safely Dispose Of Unwanted Medication

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Looking to get rid of medication? Here are six ways to safely and anonymously dispose of any leftover, expired or unwanted drugs, free of charge.

Drop off unused meds during National Prescription Take-Back Day on Saturday, April 29. The DEA holds National Prescription Take-Back Day events twice per year, where leftover or unwanted medications can be dropped off at designated police department or other specific areas throughout the community. These drop-offs are completely anonymous, free of charge and no questions are asked.

Return unused medication to your pharmacy: DEA rules established in 2014 allow pharmacies to voluntarily take back your medications. This is an especially good option for medications such as opioids and ADHD medication. You can also return it in to a hospital, narcotic treatment program, clinic or long-term care facility.

Use a self-service disposal kiosk: Walgreens offers free and anonymous kiosks to drop off medications in almost all states. Simply drop off your unwanted, expired or leftover medication into the designated slot.

Be responsible if you put pills in the trash: Hide them in coffee grounds, sawdust, or kitty litter, then seal both in a plastic bag. If your local pharmacy won’t accept your medication and drop-off at an authorized location is not an option, you can toss most pills in your household trash—just be sure to mix them with a substance that makes them less recognizable.

Mail medication to a collection site: Pharmacies including CVS and Rite-Aid sell postage-paid envelopes for customers to mail any over-the-counter medications or prescriptions to a disposal facility.

Flush them: For dangerous drugs such as opioids, the FDA says flushing is an option. However, this should only be done as a last resort option as trace amounts of drugs can end up in the water supply and possibly harm aquatic life.